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Most remarkable about this MOC image is the discovery of light and dark layers in the rock outcrops of the canyon walls. In the notable, triangular mountain face (at center), some 80 layers, typically alternating in brightness and varying in thickness from 5 to 50 meters (16 to 160 feet), are clearly visible. This shear mountain cliff, over 1000 m (3200 ft) tall, is only one of several outcrops that, together, indicate layering almost the entire depth of the canyon. This type of bedrock layering has never been seen before in Valles Marineris. It calls into question common views about the upper crust of Mars, for example, that there is a deep layer of rubble underlying most of the martian surface, and argues for a much more complex early history for the planet. Launched on November 7, 1996, Mars Global Surveyor entered Mars orbit on Thursday, September 11, 1997. The original mission plan called for using friction with the planet's atmosphere to reduce the orbital energy, leading to a two-year mapping mission from close, circular orbit (beginning in March 1998). Owing to difficulties with one of the two solar panels, aerobraking was suspended in mid-October and resumed in November 8. Many of the original objectives of the mission, and in particular those of the camera, are likely to be accomplished as the mission progresses. Malin Space Science Systems and the California Institute of Technology built the MOC using spare hardware from the Mars Observer mission. MSSS operates the camera from its facilities in San Diego, CA. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Mars Surveyor Operations Project operates the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft with its industrial partner, Lockheed Martin Astronautics, from facilities in Pasadena, CA and Denver, CO.
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